Find out if Laser Eye Surgery or Cataract Surgery is the best option!

Laser Eye Surgery vs Cataract Surgery

It is common for patients in my clinic to ask ‘do I need cataract surgery or laser eye surgery?’. In this post I will explain each procedure, their differences, and which may be better for you.

Both cataract surgery and laser eye surgery are great options for improving your eyesight. They are extremely safe and hundreds of thousands are performed each year in the UK. However, the reasons or indications for having one or the other are different.

Laser Eye Surgery vs Cataract Surgery – Which is the best?

How does laser surgery compare to cataract or lens replacement surgery?

Both procedures take around 15 minutes per eye and are performed under local anaesthetic. The recovery time is similar; with laser surgery you can return to work within a few days, for lens surgery I would recommend a week. Both procedures are very safe, but overall laser eye surgery is the preferable option as it is an external eye procedure; laser surgery is performed on the surface of the eye, whereas lens surgery within the eye.

Generally, laser eye surgery is recommended when the optical quality of the eye is normal. When the quality of the lens of your eye is affected, such as with the presence of cataract, laser eye surgery is not the best option; cataract or lens replacement surgery would then provide a greater improvement in the quality of your vision.

Laser eye surgery can help you if:

  • you are fed up with the inconvenience of glasses or contact lenses

  • your eyes are becoming uncomfortable with contact lenses

  • you are developing contact lens intolerance or infections

  • you keep swapping between distance and reading glasses

  • you keep losing your reading glasses

Cataract or lens replacement surgery may help you if:

  • you have cloudy or blurred vision despite wearing glasses

  • you are struggling to see detail for distance and/or near

  • you have noticed a gradual fading of colours

  • are finding night driving increasingly difficult or are experiencing glare

  • you are repeatedly needing new spectacles to see clearly

Laser eye surgery

LASIK and ReLEx SMILE are the most common laser vision correction procedures. They can improve your vision so that you do not need to wear distance glasses, reading glasses or contact lenses. Laser eye surgery is performed on the cornea, reshaping its surface to allow light rays to bend and come into focus on the retina. It can correct near-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism (shape of the cornea not being regular) and the need for reading glasses (presbyopia). A type of LASIK called PRESBYOND LASIK can improve both distance and near vision without the need for glasses.

In LASIK, a femtosecond laser is used to create a thin layer on the corneal surface, called the flap, which is lifted by the surgeon. An excimer laser is then used to sculpt the cornea, correcting the underlying refractive error. SMILE is a keyhole laser vision correction procedure that does not involve the creation of a flap. The laser is used to create a disc of tissue within the cornea, called the lenticule, that is then removed by the surgeon. 

Cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is performed inside the eye; the lens that is removed with the procedure sits behind the iris which is the structure that gives eyes our unique colour. The majority of current cataract surgeries utilise the phacoemulsification technique, where a small device is used to fragment and extract the cataract from your lens. This method involves a tiny incision, typically just a few millimeters long, and generally doesn’t necessitate sutures. Following removal of the cataract, a new transparent lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), is placed inside the eye to replace your old lens. This IOL focuses light sharply onto your eye’s retina and remains in place permanently.

Lens replacement surgery 

Lens replacement surgery, also known as refractive lens exchange, is identical to cataract surgery; your natural lens is replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The procedure involves the use of a premium IOL, usually multifocal, that will correct for any astigmatism and provide a broader range of vision for distance, intermediate and near without spectacles. The primary aim of lens replacement is refractive and spectacle freedom, compared to cataract surgery that primarily aims to improve the quality of vision. 

Which procedure is best for you will depend on factors such as the health and thickness of your corneas, the clarity of your natural lenses, the refractive status (short-sightedness, long-sightedness, presbyopia/need for reading glasses) of your eyes, your age and what you would like to achieve with the surgery. 

To explore the most suitable option for you and look further into laser eye surgery, cataract surgery or lens replacement just book a free no obligation screening appointment through our contact page. Alternatively, call 02381 812281.

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
Cataract, Lens replacement and Laser Eye Surgery

Aris is a consultant eye surgeon at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. He runs private clinics at the Wessex Nuffield Health hospital (Chandlers Ford), Southampton Spire Healthcare hospital and Boots Opticians (Lymington, New Forest).

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Why have surgery with Aris?

Aris is an experienced UK trained consultant eye surgeon, having performed thousands of operations.

He provides personalised care with a broad range of vision correction procedures, including cataract surgery, lens replacement and laser eye surgery, including LASIK and PRESBYOND blended vision. This allows him to recommend the treatment most appropriate to your eyes and lifestyle needs.

Aris provides his care and surgery within the safety, friendly atmosphere, comfort of private rooms and guaranteed aftercare of traditional private hospitals - the Nuffield Health and Spire Healthcare hospitals.

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